Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on Thursday 14 June 2018.
Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.
Ian had forgotten to warn members that the meeting was downstairs in the bar this session, since the Mad Hatter’s Tearoom had been booked for a party. The bar is a great place after dark, but a bit spooky by day, necessitating standard lamps for comfortable reading. Alas, noise from the party upstairs was distracting at times, so it’s not a venue to be happy with on a permanent basis.
Mike — continued reading his satirical tale about a provincial pantomime: “Aladdin”.
The manager, in his office, reflects on a more-or-less successful opening night.
Louise — read the draft latest instalment of her novel about a mysterious London lady marooned in a rented cottage on a farm in wildest Yorkshire during the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001.
The scene moves to London, where Inspector Draper is investigating the puzzling murder of an intelligence officer. He is summoned to MI6 HQ at Vauxhall, where he has a tense meeting with “Mr Smith”.
Ian (a Home Office survivor) loved the drama of the piece, with its James Bond atmosphere, but doubted its authenticity. In the provinces, he recalled, the local Special Branch officer would have had a quiet word with Draper. But what happened in the Met (a law unto themselves) he wasn’t so sure. Louise had hoped to lighten the inevitable claustrophobia by widening the focus somewhat, but the meeting felt the action was better confined to the farming community, or to farming in general. Defra of course was in chaos at the time, affording far greater scope for difficult meetings between public servants.
Graham — continued reading from the complete first-draft of his autobiographical tale of life at sea. The crew have been paid-off but want to stick together, so they all sign-up for the Douro, a cargo boat needing a full crew. When they join it they find it is their old boat again, sold to another company and renamed. Once aboard they go searching for the dope they’ve hidden from HM Customs & Excise and given up as lost (they find it).
Back in BA (Buenos Aires) the ship unexpectedly docks in a more salubrious part of town, near the passenger ferries. A heavy mob of Argentine military come aboard with a secret cargo which they deposit in storage within sight of the ship’s bridge, welding up the doors. The crew are made to sign the Official Secrets Act. This seems to fly in the face of secrecy, turning idle rumour into established fact.
Ian [Anitra’s Petition] — Anitra and her new-found groubian friend Nanoud visit the celebrated Gaiascope in central Jordvik, where they see a huge underground chamber called the Camera (short for camera-obscura) forming a permanent observatory for planet Earth which (at Jordvik) occupies a fixed position at the zenith. Nanoud tells Anitra that groubians once believed life on Earth was impossible on dry land, since organic matter would spontaneously combust in the highly oxygenated atmosphere. She hadn’t known that rain moistened the ground to prevent that happening.
The meeting closed early at 12:40 PM, partly from the distraction of noises overhead.